week's newspapers carried a story about the "voice risk analysis system". It's
a lie detector, based on picking up stress in the voice, which businesses could
use to test whether somebody is lying when they phone in sick on a hot day.
Never mind getting fired - what about poker? No doubt the kids will
soon be carrying miniature voice risk analysis gadgets, to monitor bluffing at
In the meantime, let's run through the
traditional tells that people associate with bluffing or lying. The most famous
is that bluffers touch their faces, or cover their mouths. Connected with that
is the idea that the bluffer's whole body seems to shrink: limbs and gestures
are focussed inwards, not confidently outwards. All physical movements, some
say, become stiffer in the realm of untruth.
It is said that people
look straight at you when they're bluffing, and look away with a big hand. The
voice is supposed to change in pitch when lying - which is why the phone
detector would theoretically work. Making a joke or a quip is said to be the
sign of a nervous bluffer; someone with the best hand should not want to
distract you from calling.
You may notice I have hedged all these
statements with phrases such as "it is said" or "supposed to mean". That's
because I'm a sceptic about physical tells, and would always encourage you to
look at your opponents' betting patterns rather than their mannerisms. But it
is useful to know which gestures people generally believe to indicate a bluff,
so that you can avoid accidentally doing them when bluffing yourself.